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Most people go to college to earn a degree and get a good job. In a competitive job market, it helps to have connections. So when a college or university claims it has relationships with well-known employers, that may convince you to attend. But beware: Claims like this may be a ploy to attract new students — and your tuition dollars. In fact, the FTC says that’s just what one for-profit university did as part of an extensive advertising campaign.

In a proposed settlement announced today, the FTC says that for-profit University of Phoenix, and its parent company, Apollo Education Group, Inc., falsely claimed that their relationships with top companies created job opportunities specifically for Phoenix students and deceptively claimed they worked with these companies to develop courses. 

FTC settlement with University of Phoenix

The FTC says that University of Phoenix used a multi-media ad campaign to attract students, including ads specifically targeted to military and Hispanic consumers. The companies’ “Let’s Get to Work” campaign featured several high-profile employers, including Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe, and Yahoo!, giving the false impression that UOP worked with those companies to create job opportunities for its students.

As part of the $191 million settlement, the companies will return $50 million in cash to former students and cancel $141 million in student debt owed directly to the school. The proposed order prohibits the companies from further deceptive business practices. In addition, it requires them to ask consumer reporting agencies to delete the debts from people’s credit reports, give notice to those who got debt cancellation, and make sure people have access to their diplomas and transcripts.

Before enrolling in school, it’s important to do your homework. You can get important information about any school at the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator. For example, if you enter a school’s name, you can find out if it’s public or private, for-profit or non-profit, its accreditation status, and its student loan default rates.

Also, check out what are people are saying about schools you’re considering. Search online for the school’s name plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”

If you’re looking to advance your education, do your homework to be sure you know what you’re paying for. Check out Choosing a College: Questions to Ask.

Added on December 19, 2019: The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

939 Comments

JR
December 11, 2019
So this does not apply to Federal loans? As in those who applied for Federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans to pay for UOP during this time? Or are those students included as well?
Melissa Rollins
December 11, 2019
I wish this lawsuit would go back farther because when I got enrolled in 2005, I told the enrollment counselor that I wanted to go into nursing and the counselor said the program that I am going into would go towards the nursing program and a 3rd of the way through my associate's, I found out from my counselor that it disnt go towards the nursing program. So needless to say the enrollment counselor lied to me to get me into the program, I'm still mad about it to this day. I have completed 3 programs with them and have my masters in health administration which isnt what I wanted but decided to finish and I graduated with my masters in September of 2012 and I cant use my degree where I live because you have to have management experience in the work place to even get hired and I have none, and no actual training, so my student loans are in deferment because I cant afford to pay them and now I owe over $150,000. I would have never even started that stupid school if I would have known how it was going to turn out.
John
December 11, 2019
What does that mean owed to the school? Most people have federal financial aid. I was enrolled during the time and I remember those ads. Those ads are what made me want to go there. I don't owe money directly to the school though I owe it to Navient as I'm sure most people do. Do I get a refund too?
Former Student…
December 11, 2019
FTC, can you please provide additional context on "debt owed to the school"? If a student took out loans to attend, those loans technically paid the school and now the loan debt is owed to its servicer and/or the government. Does that mean that the majority of students who attended via student loan programs have no recourse or relief? Or is this a separate process with the servicer? The debt was only incurred due to attending so it seems like there should be relief for those students as well.
FTC Staff
December 23, 2019

In reply to by Former Student…

The debt owed directly to the school is money people owe directly to University by people who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016, that the University could collect or transfer to a collection agency. Read the Settlement Agreement for more information.

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

UnfinishedMBA
December 11, 2019
Will this apply to MBA programs enrolled in online? I am currently repaying a loan through "My Fed Loans" however it was for a loan I applied for grad school in 2012 online to attend the University of Phoenix online courses.
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by UnfinishedMBA

Students who took classes online could be covered by the settlement between the FTC and University of Phoenix, but the settlement does not affect your private loans or federal government loans.

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

mamabear
December 11, 2019
So do the people that took out Federal Student Loans to attend Univesity of Phoenix not get anything from this settlement? My husband attended from 2013-2016.
FTC Staff
December 23, 2019

In reply to by mamabear

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

colochas29
December 30, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

When will University of Phoenix and the FTC will let students know they qualify for this settlement. I know we do not have to do anything but will like to know the process on when will students will get notify.
FTC Staff
December 31, 2019

In reply to by colochas29

The University of Phoenix started notifying people around mid-December.

To get email updates from the FTC about this settlement, please sign up here.

JYo
December 11, 2019
So those who enrolled and took out student loans are excluded? If so why? They should be paying back the government and our loan balance should be reduced.
roshandaroberts
December 16, 2019
I enrolled in school August 2012 and started in September, until 2014. Will I qualify
FTC Staff
December 23, 2019

In reply to by roshandaroberts

Do you owe money directly to the University for fees or some other kind of charge?

The University will cancel the debts owed directly to the school by people who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.  The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

Ptown
December 11, 2019
What about us students who have no debt to the school but have outstanding federal loans and first enrolled during the time period?
Bthom1122
December 11, 2019
So for the students that currently owe thousands of dollars to federal student loans, this settlement doesn’t apply?
FTC Staff
December 23, 2019

In reply to by Bthom1122

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

sr70
December 11, 2019
I attended the University of Phoenix back in 2012 - and did not take out any student loans (used private/home equity loans at the time). Am I eligible for a refund or partial refund of the money I paid to the school back then?
FTC Staff
December 23, 2019

In reply to by sr70

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

Susan
December 11, 2019
I attended UOP, but did not graduate, does this still count for me?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Susan

Do you owe money directly to the University for fees or some other kind of charge?

The University will cancel the debts of students who owe fees or other charges directly to the school, for students who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

BEBE
December 11, 2019
They should have backed it to 2010.
winnieb
December 11, 2019
Does this include federal student loans taken out to pay for tuition for UoP?
TPIII
December 11, 2019
I was enrolled from 2011 to 2013 and had to take out separate loans from Sallie Mae to cover the cost of their tuition increases during this time. While my loans to Sallie Mae have been paid off, would I be able to get any compensation back for having to take out those loans, or does this only cover outstanding loans? I currently have a little over $62,000 in loans.
heavenleegh
December 11, 2019
I went to the school from 2010 to 2013. Will I get part of the loan forgiven from 2012 to 2013?
Bronzereign
December 11, 2019
How does that help the students that took out loans to pay. Many of us will not have balanced with University but have student loans for that time period.
sjakupovic
December 11, 2019
Also one of the students who started the process in late 2016 but wasn’t actually staring classes until February 2017 I want my debt wiped as well unfair I’ll be looking into how to get that time frame extended based on how their semesters run FTC this should be taken into consideration as well. The school is subpar in general and needs to be dismantled in general.
Tathiana Villanueva
December 11, 2019
I went to school from 2011-2014. I completed my Bachelors and Masters through the GI Bill. Will VA receive their money back ? Also, I didn't pay for the last class in my MBA because of all of the "hopes and dreams" that they sold me on. I still don't have the career they guaranteed coming out of that school. Now I am doing something completely different. I wish I wouldn't have wasted my GI bill on this school. I hope that I'm included in the debt being eliminated.
FTC Staff
January 17, 2020

In reply to by Tathiana Villanueva

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. That could include people who used military benefits. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

FLDevDog
March 11, 2020

In reply to by Tathiana Villanueva

Great question. Lets get reimbursed to go to a real school. I wasted my time and GI Bill, when transitioning from the military is difficult as it is. We only have one opportunity to live that, and UOP took that away from us.
Nikki
December 11, 2019
The information stated, "This settlement will not affect student borrowers’ federal or private loan obligations." I'm upset because I was enrolled from Sept 2012 to October 2016 however I will not receive any debt relief because I went through the Department of Education for Financial Aid (Nelnet in which my loans were transferred to Fedloan). I received the same information other students who paid UOP directly however I have to continue to pay to the Department of Education because I did not pay UOP directly, am I understanding this correctly? I received my Masters from the UOP and I am still trying to pursue my dream job and salary. Basically I am barely making it however I do pay my loan payments.
RWilson
December 11, 2019
When I was signed up the school was of course University of Phoenix but everything referenced AXIA college. Would this be forgiven as well, if it meets the criteria?
FTC Staff
January 14, 2020

In reply to by RWilson

Axia College of University of Phoenix was the online 2-year degree branch of the University of Phoenix.

Robertj
December 11, 2019
Good and bad news. Glad people are getting the assistance.. bad because I started at UoP in 2008, graduated in 2012 and the whole time was given similar infor.ation. About all the companies that hire their grads and the pay rates. Only to realize after graduating that many companies did NOT recognize UoP as an accredited college and did not accept the degree I received from them. I work for IBM now but only after a friend referred me to his manager and they didnt care about the degree... Wish there was more digging. They also gave false numbers on the cost of the degree so here I am 80000 + in debt ..
Rlynnm21
December 11, 2019
I enrolled in 2015 and will graduate in 2020. I received federal student loans and also paid about 1200 out of pocket. Will the federal student loans be given or paid for by UOP under this settlement?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Rlynnm21

The settlement between the FTC and University of Phoenix doesn't affect your private or federal student loans.

rlynnm21
December 16, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

SO if the settlement doesn't affect student loans, you are saying the loans wont be forgiven or paid back by UOP? well practically everyone received student loans, so how is this fair?
Robertj
December 11, 2019
Who does a person contact about all the different law suits? Doing a quick search I see others that were mislead with price and employer information prior to 2012?
Dee Nice
December 11, 2019
I enrolled in 2013 to 2017 it was those ads that made me to get financial aid and student loans to attend thinking it was my best chance of getting hired by those partner companies advertised. I took student loans because of these ads during that time period. Are we part of this settlement?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Dee Nice

Do you owe money directly to the University for fees or some other kind of charge? The University will cancel the debts of students who owe fees or other charges directly to the school, for students who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

Jose
December 11, 2019
I attended the University of Phoenix 03/25/2013. I would like to have a better understanding about how this works. Clearly I cannot afford to owe the school any money, but at the time was referred by the school to acquire a student loan. Now the loan is owed to another company in which I was loaned the money to attend the school. I understand that the settlement does not involve "private or federal loans" but the only reason I signed up for the loan was because of the "opportunities" that they claimed I would be in position to receive once I graduated. So because I was misled by the school to acquire a student loan for their program, my debt is not forgiven?
FTC Staff
December 20, 2019

In reply to by Jose

The University also paid $50 million to the FTC as part of the settlement. The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million the University paid to the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

Ellen
December 11, 2019
if you took out a federal loan because that is all they offered during this timeframe, this loan is not forgiven? Shouldn’t they be responsible for this loan too?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Ellen

The settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect your private loans or federal government loans.

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

The University also paid $50 million to the FTC as part of the settlement. The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million the University paid to the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

VReyes27
December 11, 2019
The time frame refers to the first time a student enrolled in the college - not the first date of classes. My first class was in 08 through UoP - Axia. UoP took over their online classes in 2012, making my "first enrollment" date March 2012. I'd advise anyone who took a break from from 08 to 16 to call and see if your enrollment date changed due to change of ownership. You can also call UoP Financial Aid and they will let you know if you qualify. I hope this is a start to other loan/debt forgiveness opportunities from this school. Good luck!
FTC Staff
January 14, 2020

In reply to by VReyes27

Axia College of University of Phoenix was the online two-year degree branch of the University of Phoenix.  If you first enrolled at Axia College of the University of Phoenix in 2008, that is like you first enrolled at University of Phoenix in 2008.

justchaa
December 11, 2019
I enrolled in 2012. Do you know if there is a way around the enrollment date?
BoxWhatBox
December 19, 2019
I attended UOP during that time frame. Will my outstanding student loan debt be covered under this settlement? What about the resulting interest? Will UoP obtain my contact information via my student loan company?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by BoxWhatBox

The settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect your private loans or federal government loans.

Do you owe money directly to the school?

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

Nate
December 11, 2019
I was sent to a collection agency for class I took during this time and paid the balance. Will these types of debts be included as there were a result from UOP?